Better late than never; isn’t that what they say. In late fall I received a sample shipments of three wines from Smith-Madrone. I actually did not realize it was that long ago until I recovered the information sent with the wines. Wow, time flies! Through my own lack of diligence these wines ended up behind other samples I have received in the past few months. I began in mid-December and continue to work through a large gathering of wonderful wine media samples I have been trusted to taste and review. I wish I could say I was “aging” these wines from Smith-Madrone but truthfully, I just simply had not made it through the sample pile, till now! You know “Good things come to those who wait!” Good indeed! Thank you Smith-Madrone for sharing your outstanding wines with me!
Now it is January and for me that means getting my healthy eating back on track. I am not one for “dry” January, but I do scale back a bit, try to eat pretty clean, exercise harder, drink lots of water; you know the routine, you may even be doing it too. Therefore, January provides an excellent opportunity to demonstrate high quality wine pairs very well with simply, healthy meals just as well as it does more elaborate dinners.
Smith-Madrone 2013 Riesling: This wine poured a soft golden yellow in the glass and opened with beautiful aromas of stone fruit, tropical fruit, crisp minerality and a touch of fresh cut grass. On the palate this beautifully balanced dry Riesling delivered round flavors of apricot, peache, Asian pear, Korean melon, with a touch of honey, all layered on top of a firm minerality foundation. It was crisp, smooth and just the right amount of dryness to make my mouth water upon swallowing. It had a lingering finish and full mouth-feel. I am a HUGE Riesling lover and this was a good Riesling! This 100% Riesling was made from 41 year old vines in Napa Valley in the Spring Mountain District by brothers Charles and Stuart Smith. It contained 12.6% alcohol; 1288 cases produced. SRP $27; order direct from Smith-Madrone. I recommend this wine!
Riesling is the most versatile food wine in the world and pairs well with just about all foods. I paired this Riesling with a delicious light dinner from Giada de Laurentiis’ Giada’s Feel Good Food cook book: Chicken and honey mustard pinwheels. It is a crisp, clean meal of homemade honey mustard, shredded rotisserie chicken breasts and arugula wrapped in lavash bread. This light and easy sandwich paired beautifully with the Riesling; the peppery arugula mixed with the sweet and savory homemade honey mustard was well balanced by the round crisp flavors and body of the Riesling.
*Smith-Madrone is the ONLY dry Riesling from North America featured in Stuart Pigott’s book Best White Wine on Earth, The Riesling Story! That is quite an honor! Click here to read an excerpt.
Smith-Madrone 2012 Chardonnay: This wine poured a straw yellow into the glass and opened with rich aromas of toasted oak, cedar, minerals, and orchard fruit. On the palate this Chardonnay delivered powerful flavors of oak, slightly burnt-buttered toast, with Granny Smith apples, pears and crushed stone. It was certainly not a big fruit, buttery Chardonnay; rather, it was very earthy and driven with minerals and oak. It was round on the palate with a ripe acidity and elegant dryness on the finish. From my experience it tasted more like the Willamette Valley Chardonnays I have enjoyed rather than many of the over-done Napa Valley Chardonnays. This 100% Chardonnay was produced from 39 year old vines in Napa Valley in the Spring Mountain District by brothers Charles and Stuart Smith. It was 100% barrel fermented in 100% new French oak for 8 months, contained 14.2% alcohol; 779 cases produced. SRP $32; order direct from Smith-Madrone. I recommend this wine to all of you who, like me, prefer a well-crafted, less fruity, not buttery, Chardonnay.
I paired this Chardonnay with a homemade healthy salad consisting of: mixed salad greens topped with quinoa, carrots, cucumber, tomatoes, pomegranate seeds, chopped almonds and rotisserie chicken with a homemade EVOO/Balsamic vinegar dressing. The toasted, nutty flavor of the quinoa really pulled the salad/wine pairing together. It was a nice weeknight meal.
Smith-Madrone 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon: This wine poured a lovely red garnet into the glass and opened with seductive aromas of dark fruit, smoke, and mocha. On the palate those aromas delivery in dazzling flavors of blackberry, black plums and black cherries with a hint of cola, leather cigar box, and smoke with rich dark chocolate, espresso and a hint of vanilla left lingering on the palate. It is a ripe, round wine that delivers ripe acidity and well-crafted tannins that linger on the palate giving this wine a long finish. This wine is drinking beautifully right now; however, I can only image the wonderful gift time will bestow on this wine! This wine was crafted of 83% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10 % Cabernet Franc and 7% Merlot from 39 year old vines in Napa Valley in the Spring Mountain District by brothers Charles and Stuart Smith. This wine was aged for 19 months in French oak barrels; contained 14.3% alcohol; 1,070 cases produced. SRP $48; order direct from Smith-Madrone. I recommend this wine; in fact, I recommend you purchase several bottles and hide them in your cellar for 10ish years, after you drink one now of course!
I paired this wine with a weeknight Greek dish: lamb meatballs with mint and feta on top of fresh pita bread and covered with tzaki sauce, served with cucumber, tomato and purple onion salad mixed with EVOO and Red wine vinegar. It was a quick, easy and delicious weeknight meal. The wine paired beautifully with lamb while allowing the delicate flavors of the veggie salad to shine; not being overpowered by this big Cabernet. It was a great meal and a great pairing!
Smith-Madrone wines are literally the definition of ‘estate’ – they are all grown literally a stone’s throw from the winery, primarily dry-farmed, planted on steep slopes which range up to 34%, in red Aiken soil which is derived from weathered volcanic materials and sedimentary rock. Smith-Madrone is perched almost at the top of the Spring Mountain District appellation, 1400 to 1900 feet at the highest point.
From the Smith-Madrone web site:
At Smith-Madrone our goal is to make artisanal wines which are distinctive and are an expression of both the vintage and us, as vintners, but above all else, are wines which bring pleasure to the senses. Every year our wine is made from the same vineyards, pruned by the same people in the same way, cultivated in exactly the same manner and harvested at similar levels of maturity, yet Mother Nature stamps each vintage with a unique set of flavors, senses and character. Vintage dating is a celebration of that uniqueness and diversity.
I strongly encourage you to visit the Smith-Madrone web site to learn more about Charles and Stuart, see their beautiful winery, and view their entire portfolio of wines.
My Song Selection: The song I have chosen to pair with these three Smith-Madrone wines is Take it Easy by The Eagles. When I read the philosophy of Smith-Madrone, the environment where they grow their vines, and the bios on Stuart and Charles it seems to me these two men are dedicated to loving life and making great wine. They don’t seem stressed or uptight; just relaxed and blessed…and it shows in the high quality of the wines they are perennially producing.
Get your own bottles of Smith-Madrone Riesling, Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon and let me know what song you would pair with them. Cheers!